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ELT: VOLUME 34:2, 1991 well as the simple extended anecdote we had always thought it to be. "The Comprehension of Private Copper" (not even a weU-told story) offers some surprising insights on the nature of racism (not what most readers will discover on a first encounter). "The Wish House" is both "an exposition of woman's capacity for self-sacrifice" (what many of us gather immediately) and an exposition of how obsessive a woman's sexual desire can become, to the point where she exerts her power through selfinflicted wounds (which forces us to reconsider Kiphng's intentions). Not all of us will want to agree with this or that interpretation; but Crook makes a strong, indeed an overwhelming, case for the hkehhood that Kipling's habits of mind, trained as they were by attentive reading, hfe on two continents (expanded eventually to five), and conversations with a gigantic cast of characters, made it impossible for him to settle for the writing of any story without a subtext that seriously changed, and sometimes subverted, the meaning of the texte. Harold Orel University of Kansas RECONSTRUCTING HARDY Peter Widdowson. Hardy in History. New York: Routledge, Chapman & Hall, 1989. xi + 260 pp. Cloth $49.95 Paper $14.95 LIKE HARDY'S first novehstic venture, The Poor Man and the Lady, Peter Widdowson's Hardy in History: A Study in Literary Sociology is a book that "mean[s] mischief." Widdowson's very first sentence, which acknowledges some difficulties he would invite were he to suggest The Hand ofEthelberta is as significant as Tess of the D'Urbervilles, makes a provocative beginning. The problems are not sufficiently daunting, however, to keep Widdowson from his task. But before he asserts an opinion which he believes will strike 99% of the "Hardy Critical Industry" (HCI) as proof of his stupidity or perversity, Widdowson undertakes a massive exercise in deconstruction. He needs to estabhsh that the present constitution of "Thomas Hardy" by conventional hterary criticism is wrong-headed, and that the concepts ("orthodoxies," in Widdowson's terms) of "hterary value," the "canon," and "tradition" of "Literature" need to be challenged because they hmit our cultural perspectives. This is all fair enough and, to an American audience, not nearly as threatening as Widdowson seems to believe; however, as his primary 212 Book Reviews audience is the British branch of the HCI, and as Widdowson very clearly belongs to another party, perhaps my statement is presumptuous. Widdowson's effort to provide a "revolutionary criticism" (Terry Eagleton 's term) seems to him to require a superior, even contemptuously antagonistic tone towards "conventional" hterary critics and the British cultural estabhshment. His "revolutionary" book ("an exploratory essay in a kind of historical criticism—or perhaps better, a sociology of hterature") attempts to elucidate the historical processes of the production and reproduction of meaning, status, and value in the case of "Thomas Hardy," a hterary "classic" who is also extremely "popular" in our own historical period. Widdowson believes that by deconstructing some of these processes—by exposing their workings and reveahng, paradoxically, the very fact that their processes are artificial—he can legitimize "other reproductions of Hardy in different guises and for different purposes." That is, Widdowson intends to reproduce his "Thomas Hardy" (what he calls MY[different]TH) and "recuperate" the "minor" novels that have been "marginalized" or banned from the "canon," publishers' hsts, and school curricula, especially The Hand of Ethelberta, which is as significant, in a way, as Tess of the d'Urbervilles. The first half of Widdowson's book, which he calls a critiography, details the guises in which "Hardy the novelist" is produced and reproduced. By examining the early reviews of Hardy's novels and subsequent academic criticism, Widdowson shows how meanings and evaluations are constructed on a writer's works and are not intrinsically and determinately contained in them. Also, he attempts to prove how such discourses affect the accessibility of texts and estabhsh the parameters within which texts may be read, understood, and appreciated. Widdowson examines some reasons behind the critics' relegation of nearly half of Hardy's fiction to "minor" status; and he examines the effects of criticism on the publishing of Hardy's...


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